Viral Spillover: predictable?

The New Yorker routinely does an excellent job with science. This piece by Matthew Hutson is another good one. The debate is whether it’s worthwhile even trying to scientifically sample the animal reservoirs (e.g. bats) where this zoonotic transfer begins. Is it hopelessly complex? Is the sampling itself playing with fire?

My own sense (based on my NSF experience) is that there are valuable rule sets that can be revealed and these are what we must try to figure out. Yes, the complexity is high–the interactions span genomes to ecosystems, but the payoff could be immense. Early on in the pandemic, I blogged about a hypothetical COVID30. Because of climate change, we may be facing new infectious disease assaults on humans much more frequently than that as animal reservoir species and humans migrate towards intersections in space and time.